In How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn writes, “The first job of an author is, of course, to write great books, but these days, their second job is to market them.” Penn goes on to address the misunderstanding many authors have about marketing:

I know the very word can be off-putting, but marketing is not about shrieking, “buy my book, buy my book” crazily on social media. It’s not about scams, unethical practices or treating people badly. Marketing is about sharing what you love with people who truly value hearing about it.

The truth is, if you have an aversion to social media marketing, it probably stems from an aversion to marketing in general. And who could blame you? Social media platforms change faster than Kim Kardashian changes shoes.

When we talk about marketing in 2015, the conversation is incomplete without social media marketing. Marketing research tells us it is a key player in buying decisions: according to Ad Week, 71 percent of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral, and 78 percent say that a brand’s social media posts impact their buying decisions. With 71 percent of the adult Internet population using Facebook and 52 percent using more than one social media platform, these numbers are hard to ignore.

Successful Social Media Marketing Needs to Be Sustainable

“Sustainable” is a trendy word today. Slap it on a product and you’re in. Sustainable practices insure the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely—in it for the long run. It is not just a trendy watchword, though; it is a principle that can be applied to any practice, including marketing.

Sustainable marketing has 10 key characteristics, which act as filters for every strategy we implement and every tool we pull out. Checking our social media marketing plan against these characteristics insures that our marketing will be successful in the long run.

1. Sustainable social media is organic. Organic practices are ethical. They rely on natural growth and are fed by word of mouth. The audience decides if the product fits their needs. If it does, they spread the word. If your marketing is not organic, you may have growth, but it will be temporary. Examples of inorganic marketing practices include buying social media followers, buying book reviews, and paying for tweets and retweets. But paid advertising designed to foster sustainability can also be organic.

2. Sustainable social media values diversity. Finding the sweet spot of audience diversity takes some work. It starts with knowing who your fans are and having a keen sense of their needs. Putting all your marketing eggs in one basket (platform) aimed at one audience is not sustainable.

3. Sustainable social media adds value. When Jay Baer wrote Youtility, in 2013, his message was revolutionary and long overdue. Youtility is “marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your brand and your customers.”

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